Off-Grid Living 2023: The Timberlander’s Super Cool Project List

Discover the building projects fueling my off-grid living 2023 adventures.

Last Wednesday, my Great Pyrenees, Maycee, and I arrived in the woods of the Upper Peninsula of Mihcigan to begin our off-grid living 2023 adventures. In that time, I have decided on the perfect spot for the 16-foot by 12-foot “shed” to build for immediate shelter and to get us out of our tents.

After a winter of planning and gathering vintage hand tools and a few power tools, too, it’s time to get to work.

This is meant to be a going off grid for beginners starter guide, if you will.

To keep things simple and efficient, I’ve had lumber for the flooring delivered. Sunday I started clearing a new work site.

I can’t stress how much I crave a familiar, safe, and secure environment for us this year. This is a journey of self-sufficiency and personal growth. But we’ve also encountered a new villain for our Season 2 storyline: a young black bear. One that made two visits in and around the site Tuesday.

So, let me share with you many of the projects I have on the list to complete. These include projects that require completion before I can do the bigger tasks. After completing these projects, I’l be able to experiment with alternative power solutions, rainwater capture, and waste management. But none of that happens if these things don’t get done in the right order and as soon as humanly possible.

No stress, right?!

By reading my posts, watching for updates on TikTok, and long-form videos on YouTube, you can be part of this adventure and help shape the direction and success. Let’s make this off-grid living dream a reality together. Let’s embark on this exciting journey into the world of off-grid living in 2023.

Upcoming off-grid living and timber framing projects

My adopted mantra is “simple life, simpler living.”

In order to achieve simpler living, I’m opting for a series of projects to help make the work ahead easier to accomplish.

Finishing site clearing and putting up the tents

I left the UP in October, 2022 unable to pack everything I wanted to take with me for the winter. Some things were left behind in a lean-to.

Heavy, wet snow fell in the Marquette area in May. This brought down a number of trees leading out to the land, but it also collapsed my little structure. No big surprise, but in itself, an experiment. Stronger beams with much greater diameters might have had a better chance.

I won’t make that mistake again.

The snow load for structures in the UP is 70 psf. Most places in America have a much lower load demand requirement.

Cleaning up the mess took a few days, but it’s cleared now.

Where I will set up both tents Wednesday, July 12, 2023.

Where I will set up both tents Wednesday, July 12, 2023.

We have a 10-person tent Maycee and I occupied last summer. I can’t find a level patch of ground to put it up. So I have stuff under a tarp outside and stuff in the car. I’m doing what I can to keep it organized, but not having things where they belong is driving me buggy.

In the meantime, we’re staying in a tee-pee tent.

The temporary off-grid living 2023 tee-pee made by Ozark Trail.

The temporary off-grid living 2023 tee-pee made by Ozark Trail.

Putting up the big tent and us moving in will be of great relief to me. But we’re a ways from that happening, even after another long day of work.

Monday evening brought torrential downpours, thunderstorms, and hail to Marquette.

Sleeping in the tee-pee that night was a little damp.

Did I mention the problem I’m having with a young black bear. 

Monday I decided to put the big tent in a particular spot. With that, I also made plans to move the tee-pee.

I had a good spot picked out Tuesday afternoon.

After hours of clearing two prime sites, I then saw our little black bear friend no more than 40 yards away. I roared at him, trying to “be the bigger bear.” The ursid stopped and looked at me. I roared once more.

It blinked as if it were saying, “That’s all you’ve got?”

So I fired a shot over its head.

The first time, that got it to move. About 15 yards. Then it looked at me once again.

I roared once more.


The bear just sat there looking at me looking at it.

This time I called for Maycee as she did a great job of scaring off the bear(s) we encountered last year.

Calling Maycee made the bear take off; this time running 30-40 yards half-way up the ridge where I really want to put a “shed.”

I called Maycee once more.


The bear stood at the side of the steep incline for a few more seconds and I fired in its direction again.

This made it climb higher up the ridge. No simple feet, let me tell you.

Out of site, I set my focus on my Great Pyrenees. My champion defender.

About five minutes later I found that she’d taken off down the road toward the way out of the woods.

When she heard me honking the horn and starting up the car, she finally came back to me.

All this is necessary to tell because I’d decided to put the new 16′ x 12′ shed/cabin not far from where I saw the bear at first.

But I’d also been planning to put the two tents out there, too.

Getting our supplies inside the tents

Assuming Maycee and I do not get eaten by the bear(s), our supplies need to go into our two tents.

The many supplies that need to go into our tents.

The many supplies that need to go into our tents.

And then I can also empty the car of stuff I’m hauling around because I don’t have the current tent space.

Making other amenities–A beginners starter guide 2023

These are tools I need to build, will post to YouTube and TikTok as I go.

Saw horses

The first necessity before moving forward is saw horses. I need at least two and at this writing, I’m not sure if they’re going to be made from lumber or logs. Most likely, there will be sets from both forms of construction.

But I need them to make other projects and to work on logs for subsequent structures and projects on the land this summer.


My simple workbench developed by Rex Krueger, had to stay in Montgomery. There was not any more space in the car when we rolled north.

I need to build a couple of these. One for outside projects on the new quick and dirty site.

I’ll need another for woodworking I do for timber framing, making wooden custom crosses to sell, and a host of other reasons.

This likely is going to be another situation where I have one or two built with lumber and then others that are hand-hewn logs, etc. I am looking forward to using my left- and right-handed bearded hewing axes.

A roller board

To make this I will take a 4″ x 4″ x 2.5-foot beam and put a hole through it so I can attach wheels to opposite ends. From there, I’ll add a 2 x 6″ piece of wood to each side. When I need to move things like osb 4′ x 8′ flooring, I’ll plop them up on the gizmo, and off we’ll go.

This will alleviate the burden on my already bad back, while also ensuring the tongue and grove don’t get dragged through mud or dirt.

A compost toilet

Yeah, a crappy subject.

But try going potty outside with the mosquitoes, flies, and ticks.

I’ve got the toilet seat, buckets, bags, wood chips, and urine separator already. This project also includes plywood siding, more 4 x 4s, and hinges for the lid.

A full-sized bed

The other night at Walmart I bought a blow-up full-sized air mattress.

Last year I slept on the ground in my sleeping bag.

My back, this year, says, “No mas!”

So with some 2 x 4 x 6″s I will build the supports and use more 4 x 4s to make the four posts.

Add in some timber frame-like mortises and tenons and the bed will be as good or better than your favorite bedding place.

And I’ll be sleeping in the woods in it!

Picnic table and desk restoration

The next project is to make a picnic table out of 4″ x 6″ x 8′ boards for the top and seats. I’ll likely use 2 x 4s for the legs and braces.

My desktop made it through the winter under a tarp.

The legs, nailed underneath didn’t fare so well. So I’ll be using some 2 x 4s to shore those up and lock them in place, too, with some cross braces.

Other tools I need to make to do more projects.

For now, I’m just going to list the next “projects” in a list. I’m getting tired and the rain is subsiding for the meantime.

  • A 16-foot ladder
  • A pole for Peavy/Kant
  • Fencing
  • Raised beds
  • Compost bins
  • Flats to keep things off the ground in the stuff off the ground in the storage tent
  • Further clearing of the area

Off course, all these things also include the construction of the initial shed.

Here’s the best part, to me, at least.

I’m not going to be done with any of these things any time soon.

Well, I will be ticking them off the checklist to move on to the next project, but what I mean is that there’s a constant string of projects to keep my mind occupied and to provide video and tutorials about as I go forward.

In my post for Monday, I included information about how for now, I am posting as The Timberlander on TikTok.

I have a new mailing address:
Donald J. Claxton c/o The UPS Store
3224 US Highway 41 N
Box 208
Marquette, MI 49855
Now that you know even more about the projects to come, if you want to help support my efforts, I’m humbled.
Your generosity is so special. In fact, one reader sent $100 via Venmo Tuesday night, and for that, I’m sincerely grateful.
Small miracles of support like that encourage me and also help me keep going.
I graciously receive support via as DonaldJClaxton and Venmo using the same.
What gets lost in the journey to get off the grid is that doing so is not inexpensive.

Sponsor a project or contribute to the effort.

If I’m doing all of this off-grid establishment work, I want to share it with you. Sponsorships and contributions help make that easier to do.
If you have a product or project you want me to test that involves off-grid living and want to ship it or become a sponsor of the building video and posts, please use the address above.
You can also use social media to send DMs.
I really want to do some experiments with solar, wind, and hydropower this summer in the UP.
Not to mention rain-water harvesting, purification, and consumption.
Gardening, building a greenhouse, and so much more.
Here’s a link to the detailed account of my off-grid living efforts so far this summer.
Here’s the link to the story about us leaving for the UP.
This is an image of the tree line from the new County Road 510 Bridge near Marquette, Michigan.



  1. 8 Great Reasons to Build Rex Krueger's Minimum Timber Bench - […] need to continue building in the woods is a sturdy woodworking bench. Most everything else I have planned for…

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Donald J. Claxton | The Timberlander, a selfie from camping for 13 weeks in 2022 on the Claxton family land in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, northwest of Marquette.

Donald J. Claxton is
‘The Timberlander’

Hello, I’m Donald J. 

I refer to myself as “The Timberlander” because I love off-grid living and woodworking.

My Great Pyrenees, Maycee, and I enjoy spending our time in the woods of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

In the UP, I craft, make, grow, run, carve, and generate:

  • Custom crosses
  • Timber frame shelters
  • A garden
  • My water
  • Basswood figurines and ornaments
  • My own power

Check out my crafts for sale in The Timberlander’s Treasures.

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